"Metallica's pretty much my side project. I get to do whatever I want in Metallica. [Laughs]
"There's not really a need for it. I write things that make me feel good, and if they end up in Metallica, then that's even better.
"Sometimes they don't. Sometimes they're like a 'Nothing Else Matters' kind of thing, and they're trying to be hidden: 'Don't listen to that.'
"But, no, there's really no need for that. Or time - there's no time for that either. [Laughs]"
Back in 2015, James told So What about the same topic:
"I think Metallica, for Lars and myself - I'll speak mainly for me, but I know he feels the same way - Metallica is our side project too.
"It's our main project, it's our side project, it's our 24/7 project. It doesn't mean that I don't want to try other things, like voiceover work, a book, photography, art, cars... you name it. I want it to add to me, not subtract from Metallica.
"Before, I might have come to the table with a negative attitude around side projects: 'You're doing that, which means you're not into this band as much as I am or Lars is.' I'm tired of that feeling and I'm tired of that resentment.
"At the end of the day, I know Lars and I are the guides of this. We steer Metallica most of the time, and the other two guys are very happy that that is the way it is. And we're all equal.
"We're all contributing in our way. But I think Lars and I are very comfortable being the spearheads of it. And we are in a great spot right now, because everyone knows the band is prioritized above everything, but everyone also feels free to to explore other things."